On a cold evening at Hereford High, the Bulls field hockey team exhibited some hot stickwork and moved into the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's 3A North Regional Finals with a cool 3-0 victory over No. 4 seed Bel Air.
For the No. 4 ranked Bulls, who are the No. 1 seed, it was just another perfect night as they extended their unbeaten record to 14-0. They are believed to be the last undefeated team in the greater Baltimore area this season. It is rarefied air for Hereford according to coach Tammy Mundie, an 18-year coaching veteran at the school.
"I don't' think we've ever been undefeated before," she said. "I don't know quite what to think. Usually we always get a tough loss before the playoffs. But we haven't had one this season. This team is so consistent. It hasn't let down its guard. Tonight, not playing their best game against a tough Bel Air team, they were very patient defensively. It wasn't until the second half that we could really get anything going offensively."
Anna Mowell scored Hereford's first goal, with 15:14 to play in the first half, off one of the team's nine corner opportunities. That was it for the offense until sophomore Layne Litsinger made it 2-0, 1:23 into second half. Jessica Karwacki made it 3-0 off an assist from Mary Claire Abbott with 6:46 to play.
"They have very good stick work, they're fast and they know how to control the ball," said Bel Air's Meghan Mingioni, the Bobcats' junior goalie. "But we've had a great season and we're proud of what we've been able to accomplish."
Bel Air finishes the season with an 8-5 record.
Hereford's last two goals were scored after Mingioni had made back-to-back saves. She finished the game with 14 total stops and the Hereford team singing her praises.
"They had an awesome goalie," said Mowell, a senior defender. "Cait Abbott and I rotate in taking the shots off the corners and when I took the shot that scored our first goal, I was lucky it got by her. I tried to keep it low.
"It was unbelievably important for us to get the early lead. It was a security blanket, pushed our team ahead and built our confidence."
Hereford will play the winner of the Franklin-North Harford game, which matched the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds, respectively, for the 3A North Regional title Wednesday at the Bulls' home field.
3A North Regional Semifinal
4 Hereford 3, Bel Air 0
G- (H) Mowell, Litsinger, Karwacki. A – (H) M.C.Abbott.
Saves – (H) Betsill 2; (BA) Mingioni 14.